Honolulu City Lights and Electric Light Parade


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One of our family’s favorite Hawaiian holiday traditions is to visit Honolulu Hale City Lights (530 South King Street) and watch the Public Workers Electric Light Parade which has been delighting island families each Christmas for nearly 30 years.  This year the month long celebration will officially mark the beginning of the holiday season in Hawaii on December 3rd with the lighting of the City Christmas Tree and an eye popping Griswold style light parade filled with festively decorated city fire, police, emergency, maintenance and refuse vehicles and local high school marching bands playing holiday classics as they proceed down King Street (click here for a parade route map) in Honolulu.  The parade participants will serve as escort for Santa who will arrive in Honolulu on the last float just as the city tree and other holiday displays are illuminated by the Mayor.  Following the parade, Santa will go to Mission Memorial Auditorium for free picture taking and all of the city’s parade vehicles will park along King Street for visiting, which the keiki (and keiki at heart) will undoubtedly enjoy checking out!  Later, you can wonder over to the Sky Gate Stage at the Frank F. Fasi Civic Center for a free star-studded holiday concert (click here for a schedule and a list of artists scheduled to perform).  Spread around the grounds of Honolulu Hale are holiday decorations, food booths, keiki rides and souvenir vendors in a celebration of Christmas that can only be found in Hawaii!  Larger than life Shaka Santa and Aunty Mele outdoor figures are among the annual crowd favorites.  Other displays include a joyful Hawaiian Snow Family and a Christmas train overflowing with presents...and Menehune.  While there, be sure to go inside Honolulu Hale and check out the tree displays and wreath contest exhibit.  This is also where you can find the bathrooms!  Be sure to check out nearby Iolani Palace as well, which will be beautifully decorated for the holiday season!  Honolulu City Lights will run through January 1st but the parade can be seen only on December 3rd.  Special events will run some evenings throughout the month of December including Hot Chocolate Night, Milk and Cookies Night and a free showing of the Wizard of Oz (click here for a schedule).   Opening night events will begin at 4:00 p.m. when the rides and booths open.  Arrive early to get a good viewing spot for the parade and tree lighting which will begin at 6:00 p.m. with musical performances at Honolulu Hale and the start of the parade at River Street.  At 6:30 p.m. events will culminate in the arrival of the parade at Honolulu Hale and the illumination of the city tree.   Plan on arriving before 5 p.m. to avoid traffic delays and road closures.  Parking can be found at the Smith-Beretania or Hale Pauhi parking garages (click here for street closures and parking).  If you just want to see the parade, consider going to Chinatown where the parade starts and avoid the additional traffic and crowd caused by the tree lighting festivities closer to Honolulu Hale.  Just be sure to arrive before the street closures start and you may have to wait a bit for them to reopen after the parade.  If you go, bring a small stroller that you can navigate the large crowd with and remember to bring a camera so you can take pictures of the floats and of the kids with Santa!  You can buy food and drinks (bring cash) at various locations around the grounds and there are limited bathroom facilities available.   You can also purchase Honolulu City Lights ornaments for your tree, shirts, and Hawaiian Christmas cards for the family.  This is a really neat holiday family outing that we highly recommend.  If you can’t make the opening night festivities be sure to head to Honolulu Hale one evening during the month around sunset (about 6:00 p.m.) and check out all the displays and lights.  Mele Kalikimaka! 

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